Resolution in Support of Juvenile Justice Reforms
Adopted by the Board of Trustees
King County Bar Association
June 20, 2018

WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees established in 2016 a Juvenile Justice Reform Task Force of judges, defenders, prosecutors, and other experts to research and report to the Board on issues related to whether barriers exist in the legal system that can be removed to minimize disproportionate involvement by race, gender, income, sexual orientation, and/or disabilities in King County’s juvenile justice system; and

WHEREAS, scientific research indicates that juveniles generally are less mature and more irresponsible than adults based, in part, on incomplete brain development; are more susceptible to negative influences and outside pressures, including peer pressure; exhibit character that is not as well-formed as that of an adult; and are more susceptible than adults to stress that greatly compromises cognition; and

WHEREAS, an increasing number of U.S. and Washington State Supreme Court decisions have cited the unique characteristics of youth that distinguish young people from adults, and

WHEREAS, in Washington State, the history of racial disproportionality has been found at every stage of juvenile justice proceedings, as documented in the report entitled Juvenile Justice and Racial Disproportionality Report to the Washington State Supreme Court 2012; and

WHEREAS, children of color and their families have been subjected to systemic harms which have caused families to be separated and children to be marginalized; and

WHEREAS, while King County has made progress in reducing the numbers of detained juveniles, racial disparity continues despite current juvenile justice reform efforts; and

WHEREAS, the Task Force has identified eleven objectives for legal reform of the juvenile justice system in Washington State (attached to this resolution);

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the King County Bar Association endorses its Task Force's recommendations and authorizes its Public Policy Committee to advocate for legislative and judicial changes in support of the objectives set forth its Task Force's report.